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Singing Beyond Words

Forge a new connection with the musical phrasing of your song –says Mister Tim

Last week we talked about the WORD, the lyric of your song, and how vital it is to speak the lyric clearly so your audience understands what you are singing about.

This week I ask: is it possible for your audience to understand the emotional intent of your song even if they do not understand the words?

What if you are singing in a foreign language? What if your song has no words?

The answer, of course, is yes: the words are only one part of your music; the other part is the MUSIC.

Theoretically, if your song is a good song, you can hum the melody and the music alone will appropriately fit what the song is about.

Try This:

Sing your melody on a neutral vowel (ooh, ahh…). Or, hum. Or, try singing different words, or nonsense words, to the melody. Or try imitating an instrument, pretending that the melody is being played by a violin, or trumpet or something else.

Is there energy in the music? Does the music stand alone without the lyrics? What can you do to improve the shape, development, or interest of the music alone? Can you tell a story, actually bring an audience to an understanding of the meaning of the song, without the lyrics?

Now, when you put the lyrics back in, can you keep the powerful music and combine it with the words?

Putting It All Together

Imagine if you are singing powerful musical phrases, with powerful lyrics, spoken with clarity and meaning…

THAT is the other half of understanding the message you give to the audience that is more powerful than lyric or music alone, but is a magical melding of the two… that is MUSIC.

My Reactions To This Week’s Peer Reviews

Avelyne Sounds – Immortal Memories (Original)

Such a lovely, simple song. I appreciate the sincere, direct way you perform right into the camera. You might try singing the song on a neutral vowel – ooh, oh, ah, or even a hum – and connect the notes, making a long sustained tone that stretches the length of the musical phrase. Then try singing the words, but maintaining that same sustained tone. I think you can minimize the breaks between words, drawing out the pretty melody, and still have the lyrics understood. Great work!

Dave Roscoe – James Black’s Hey Why (cover)

Well, Dave! I’m impressed. Great voice for this music, great range, and a good performance. I think you can maximize your dynamic potential. Can you make more contrast between the low and high singing? Be a little more subdued, while still maintaining your intensity, while low, and then letting loose even more on top? I also think you can put more emphasis on important words. Which are the vital words that you can chew on more? Which words give the song its meaning? In addition to trying my suggestions mentioned earlier in this article, try humming everything except the vitally important words, which you will sing.

-Mister Tim

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Mister Tim is the mastermind behind more than a dozen award-winning a cappella groups, including 2010 Harmony Sweepstakes champions Plumbers of Rome, internet sensations moosebutter, beatbox quartet Mouth Beats, and all-original vocal bands VoxBom and THROAT. He is a published composer and arranger, a dedicated teacher, and a solo artist, most recently with his solo vocal live looping show “Vocal Magic.” He was a headline performer in the Las Vegas Strip production of “Toxic Audio,” is in demand for speciality corporate music projects, and is an active educator, coach, and clinician. mistertimdotcom.com